The Role of Values, Beliefs, and Culture in Student Retention and Success

The Role of Values, Beliefs, and Culture in Student Retention and Success

Julie M. Little (Taylor University, USA), Scott Gaier (Taylor University, USA) and Danielle Spoutz (Taylor University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2998-9.ch004
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Culture is comprised of a shared set of values and beliefs, and is known to contribute to organizational success. But how do these factors contribute to individual success within the framework of academia? The purpose of this chapter is to better understand the intersection of values, beliefs, and culture within the area of student retention and success in higher education. As both universities and colleges struggle to identify aspects to increase graduation completion rates in various environments, it is essential to examine the most basic factors that often contribute significantly to this area. This chapter defines individual values and beliefs, the development of shared values, beliefs and culture, the impact of each, and the role of each within the larger topic of student retention and success.
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Factors Of Retention: Values, Beliefs, And Culture

As previously discussed, underlying foundational elements must be present in order for students to persist within their degree programs. These elements include personally held values and beliefs, as well as the development of shared culture. The individual factors of values and beliefs contribute to both the connection and the identification of students with the institution. Meanwhile, the university’s culture impacts students on a continuous basis.

To best understand exactly what culture is and how it might contribute to both student retention and success, we must first consider the various definitions of the term. Culture has been defined by many, often from varying perspectives, from psychology to sociology to anthropology. Western society has attempted to define culture from the ethic or minority viewpoint in order to better understand the multicultural world in which we now exist. But as Mantovani (2000) revealed, understanding culture is a “universal problem” (p. 1). For our purposes within this chapter, culture will be considered as the set of shared assumptions, which produce understanding and behavior, resulting in the very identity or essence of the group, including an organization.

The realization that culture is the compilation of several contributing factors including an individual’s values and beliefs; and then demonstrated within the framework of norms, artifacts and behavior within a group, provides a deeper understanding of the structure that exists (Hogan & Coote, 2013; Homburg & Pflesser, 2000; Schein, 2010). Culture is known to have a profound impact upon and within a group, whether it be a small independent group or a large complex organization such as an academic institution. Group success has been directly tied to the existing culture. Notably, the concept of “individual-fit” within the culture has become increasingly important and therefore, studied, with respect to retention.

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